I Survived a Palestinian Terror Attack. For Me, Demolishing Terrorists’ Homes Is No Comfort

In the waiting area of the Tel Hashomer Hospital, a police officer asked me a barrage of questions.

Did you notice what they were wearing? No, I was more focused on the gun. Did you hear them shout anything? No, I didn’t. I don’t think they did. It was so loud. What did you see? Just one of the men, standing there and shooting, and then nothing – I laid down under a table. But when I got up, I saw that there were people on the ground outside. I’m not sure if they were alive.

Behind her, the waiting room’s television sets were showing, almost on loop, what I was describing. Hours earlier, two Palestinian gunmen had opened fire in Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market complex. I had just gotten stitches in my chin, which I busted open when the shooting started and I dove to the ground, and was waiting to be treated for what they were describing as "shock."

Two months later, on August 4, 2016, my friend and fellow soldier in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit sent me a text message. "They’re destroying the houses of the terrorists from your attack," it said. "I thought you’d want to know before you get the [formal] announcement." 

Hours later, it arrived, via the unit’s Whatsapp group for operational updates. "Overnight, in accordance with the government’s directives, security forces demolished the residences of the two terrorists who carried out the terror attack at Sarona Market on June 8th, killing four civilians and wounding several more. Forces demolished the residence of Muhammad Ahmad Moussa Ed Mahmara in Khirbat Raqqa (south of Hebron) and the residence of Khaled Mahmara in Yatta." There were pictures, and a video, attached.

In the video, soldiers taped yard after yard of wires and explosives to the walls. Diggers and bulldozers grabbed at chunks of wall and roof, scraping them down into rubble. And then a greyscale aerial view: With crosshairs fixed on the structure, a steady voice counted down from three, and a silent explosion illuminated the scene, quickly replaced by dark smoke clouds. And once more, in color: complete blackness, and then a booming red fireball.

I remember watching it, and being overcome with an intense, overwhelming feeling of nothing. It was a detachment on a level that had little to do with trauma. This dust and rock felt so unrelated, so completely disconnected from the horror, the screaming, the blood on that Tel Aviv cafe floor.